I have two approaches to unknown situations:
- Learn as much as I can about it before committing to a course of action.
- Get stuck in and learn as I go.
Which is best? Number 1 is the sensible choice obviously, but number 2 is really good fun if there isn’t much at stake.
For speaking, I recommend a combination of both:
- Before: Use your logical ‘adult’ faculties to gather information, write an outline and develop some strategy and courses of action. Preparation is vital for any situation where successful communication is important (e.g. a presentation or pitch). Work out the important stuff: why are you speaking? who are the people you’re speaking to and what’s their level of knowledge and experience of the subject? What’s the objective? Nail these and you’ll be ready for the event itself:
- During: Use your creative ‘child-like’ instinct to enjoy yourself, go with the flow and don’t worry about the consequences. This approach works best when you’ve done stage 1 properly – going with the flow without sufficient preparation can come across as chaotic and unstructured. Adapt to what happens and make sure that you’re in the moment.
Execute both of these approaches correctly and you’ll come across very well in lots of different situations.